Lewis Hamilton deserved ‘more respect’ as Toto Wolff message leaves ‘sour taste’

Oliver Harden
Toto Wolff speaking to Lewis Hamilton who is wearing his helmet. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Toto Wolff speaking to Lewis Hamilton who is wearing his helmet. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

F1 commentator Peter Windsor has called for Toto Wolff to show “more respect” to Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes team boss’s team radio intervention during the Austrian Grand Prix left a bitter taste.

Following an upturn in results with the heavily revised W14 in recent weeks, Hamilton was back to struggling with the car on a bruising weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

After being classified a lowly 18th in Saturday’s sprint shootout session, the seven-time World Champion struggled throughout the grand prix and was the first of several drivers to incur a time penalty for multiple track limits breaches.

Lewis Hamilton told to shut up and drive by Mercedes

Hamilton aired his grievances for the remainder of the race, with Wolff at one stage getting on the airwaves to tell his driver: “Lewis, the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.”

Having been alarmed by Ferrari’s treatment of Charles Leclerc during last month’s Canadian GP, former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor was unsettled by the way Wolff spoke to Hamilton mid-race.

And he claimed Wolff’s admission that the car was bad was a damning reflection of the team’s lack of progress since Mercedes’ highly anticipated upgrade package arrived at the Monaco GP at the end of May.

Speaking via his YouTube channel, Windsor said: “There was a comment from Toto Wolff two-thirds of the way through the race which, for me, left a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth because it was Lewis again going on about track limits.

“It was a bit like that comment to Charles Leclerc in Canada – a bit schoolmaster talking to the pupil – and he said: ‘Yes, Lewis, we know the car is bad. Get on and drive the race, please.’

“I just thought, ‘Wow’, [firstly] for all the song and dance about the [upgrades] and how improvements are there and they’re moving forward and the setup and getting the tyres in the right window.

“And [secondly], to speak to Lewis like that – ‘get on and race’ – this guy’s a seven-times World Champion, he does deserve a little bit more respect than that, I think.

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“I just felt a little bit uneasy hearing that. It probably goes on all the time but I just wish we didn’t hear all the radio all the time if it’s going to be like that.

“I’m surprised. If anything’s going to be driving Lewis crazy it’s going to be stuff like that because, if nothing else, he wants to enjoy his racing now.

“There’s not much else to do because he ain’t going to be winning, the car’s not very good, he’s got the British Grand Prix coming up – his race, if you like – so at least just enjoy it even if he’s midfield.

“But if you’re going to be spoken to like that by your team principal it’s not really fun either, is it? I wouldn’t have thought it was anyway.

“Maybe Lewis can shrug it off. He seems to be able to shrug everything else off [that’s happened] over the last two years very impressively, so good luck to him if he can do that.”

The flashpoint comes at a sensitive stage in Hamilton’s negotiations to extend his stay at Mercedes beyond the end of this season, with Wolff revealing in Austria that an announcement will not be timed to coincide with Hamilton’s home race at Silverstone.

Despite indicating in Canada that a deal was just days away, Wolff said at the Red Bull Ring that the finer details are yet to be resolved with finances and the length of the contract extension agreed.

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